Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Root of All Great Character-Building

I must apologize for not getting back to the blog sooner; got busy on the total rewrite which I just finished yesterday....and Titanic 2012 has been pushed out to 540 pgs. and although I did a red-pencil reRead/reWrite from stem to stern, top to bottom, it only convinced me I have a lot more work to do.

Props are forgotten, threads are dropped, characters have gone off on their own....and all manner of problems remain. Fortunately, I knew there would be days like this when I am FINISHED but not HARDLY. I have some folks vetting the novel as we speak, and a big complaint is that the character of Ransom is given rather short shrift in his introduction. This is likely due to the fact I have a clear and concise idea of who Alastair Ransom is since I have penned three previous titles with the 1893 detective who is trying to defend his beloved Chicago against the onslaught of crime that comes along with The Chcago World's Fair (Columbian Exposition of 1893). But I oughta know better as folks reading Titanic may well know nothing of Inspector Alastair Ransom, now living under an assumed name and identity in Belfast as he has escaped a Chicago hanging for what he allegedly did to a priest--a bad thing happened on the way to the church.

At any rate, I know I have to re-introduce Alastair now as Wyland, the Belfast private eye in 1912 whose is drawn into a missing persons case which further draws him onto the ship Titanic, chasing an elusive killer, a killer like no other he has faced--a suprahuman creature that poses a threat to all mankind.

Alastair is hired by two young interns in Belfast, and the trio become close friends as a bond forms due to their fighting this common enemy. Meanwhile in 2012 other relationships are forming around David Buckland into whose hands falls a journal kept by one of the interns, a journal that tells a fantastic tale, one that explains why the unsinkable ship went down.

To make it all work one must get to the root of the characaters, to live with them, spend time with them, eat with them, brush teeth with them, frolic in the rain with them if you will. To craft fully-realized characters and/or just to undersand the lengths to which a dedicated and determined author will go--beyond such things as research--you need to read my blog at  or got to --as there I have posted how this matical, mystical, psychical thing between me and my characters happens. It is a fascinating trip and you will meet there The Root Mon which culminated in a poem but one I used in Pure Insticnt, set in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and in the novel, too, The Root Mon and his store show up along with the poem posted on his store wall. A fascinating character who simply demanded I stop my life and Write Him UP from the depths of my subconscious.

I only know that I have my work cut out for me with regard to Titanic 2012 and it continues to occupy me to no end.  Having completed the big first rewrite, I know I must now soon start over at page one and do it all over again. This is not only hard inertia wise, it is difficult to get steam up to do back to back rewrites, but it is also hard because as they say in song -- "Once a story's been told, it can't help but get old" -- and our initial reaction to doing ANOTHER rewrite is disappointment.  BUT and this is a huge but!  But in the first rewrite it informs us of much of what needs now be done, and we come out of the trees and can see the forest a great deal clearer now. In the next rewrite, more and greater magical things are going to happen because dropped threads, missing props, and many more good things are going to come together far more like clockwork.

So in a sense, I MUST get excited about and look forward to reading, hearing, feeling the story again.  Play it again, Sam.  In doing so, all he subtle nuances and connective tissue will fall into play.

ReWriting is Writing is ReWriting. Some projects require more, some less, but it is an all important part of the process. Now for more on the fully-realized character, on flesing out character, on living with one's characters to the point of knowing what they will do before they do it....see my blog at make mine mystery or repeated at acme authors!  And thanks for hanging with me here!  Do leave a comment.  Do find me on facebook, too!

Rob Walker

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